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By Kate Schroder
Values guide and center us, reminding us of who we are – and what we stand for. Reflecting on my values, I return to the non-negotiable principles that my parents instilled in my three siblings and me. Above all else, they taught us three things: be kind, work hard and help others. In individuals, values are part of our DNA. In organizations, they center a team’s work. In 2022, Interact for Health decided to refresh our values to make them more specific and actionable. We started by identifying our personal values. As team member shared, the process allowed us to “create organizational values that resonated with each of us.” That was precisely the goal. To be embraced and reinforced by all of us, our values must have meaning to us individually and collectively. Here are the six values: We tackle root causes. We work to undo and prevent the emergence of unfair systems and policies and all forms of racism and discrimination. Our vision is that people in our region will be healthy and thriving, regardless of who they are or where they live. We must address the inequities that cause vast differences in lifespan and health outcomes. We amplify community power. We know that those closest to a problem are closest to the solutions. As we seek to advance health justice, we have invited the community to share what they want to accomplish. We speak openly. We don’t shy away from hard conversations. We are brave in words and actions. This means creating and maintaining “open spaces” for challenging conversations, encouraging everyone to ask questions—even when it may be uncomfortable. We partner with trust. We come to the table with humility, honesty and transparency. We start by listening. We pull up a seat next to community members. Hosting community office hours allows us to connect with people in ways we haven’t before. We are relentless problem-solvers. We work with curiosity, urgency and flexibility. We take risks, innovate and learn from mistakes. We believe every problem has a solution. We never give up listening and collaborating to make things better for our community. We strive for impact. We work to achieve positive, lasting change at scale. We aim to add years to life and life to years for those in our community – especially for those who experience the greatest injustices in health outcomes. We are committed to the long game and clear-eyed about the unprecedented collaboration it takes. Updating these values changed us. They gave us a common language and framework to build our culture and make decisions. It was one of the most important things we did last year. Personally, it was a lesson that values can be more than just words; at Interact for Health, our values unite and inspire us – and call us to be the best team, partner and organization we can be.
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